Halloween Events in Boston 2015
No one Halloweens harder than New England—it’s practically our birthright. Our multitude of centuries-old ghost stories and graveyards has inspired the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. It also inspires plenty of excellent costume parties, horror conventions, ghost walks, and haunted house tours.
This year, Boston gets in the spooky spirit with tons of events all leading up to the big night. Whether you prefer to get your kicks at a spine-chilling horror movie marathon, an eerie organ concert, an adorable pet parade, or a costume pub crawl, there’s something for every Halloween-goer happening in town this year. Check out some of our top picks.
Shows and Live Performances
“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”
Boston Pops, conductor Keith Lockhart and Berklee College are collaborating this fall in order to completely revamp the classic 1922 silent horror film Nosferatu, and bring it to the Symphony Hall stage just in time for Halloween. The film will be presented with a new symphonic score composed entirely by eight Berklee students, making it a unique must-see experience for F. W. Murnau fans and newbies alike.
$37-$47, Friday, October 30, 8 p.m., Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 888-266-1200, bso.org.
Monster in the Mirror
The Post-Meridian Radio Players present their adaption of two classic monster tales in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Miss Hyde” and “The Frankenstein Murders”—according to producer Chris DeKalb, “Monster in the Mirror brings classic gothic tales retro enough to thrill but dark enough to chill.” The show is conducted in the style of the Golden Age of Radio, with actors performing in front of mics and sound effects being created live onstage. “The foley artists use household objects to make sound effects like horses and carriages, bubbling vats of chemicals, axes breaking down doors—and others too grisly to be described in print,” says PMRP performer Dave Barker. He adds: “We’re experimenting with smashing different kinds of fruits and vegetables in front of a microphone, to determine which sounds the most violent.”
$15 ($12 for students and seniors), October 23-24 and October 29-31, Responsible Grace, 204 Elm St., Somerville, pmrp.org.
Old School Game Show’s “Freaky Deaky, Creepy Crawly, Halloween Hellraiser in 3D”
The ’70s was the golden age of game shows, with programming such as Family Feud, Jeopardy!, and The Price is Right. Always wanted to don a polyester pantsuit, share the spotlight with Wink Martindale, and win the big money? Make those retro game show daydreams come true with Old School Game Show, “a live interactive theater experience done with all the pageantry and analog style of a 1970s television game show.” This October, join the crew for an “extra spooky, extra kooky” Halloween-themed performance at Oberon. You might not go home with a brand-new car, but survey says you’re going to have good time.
$15-$25, October 18, 7:30 p.m., Oberon, 2 Arrow St., Cambridge, 617-496-8004, americanrepertorytheater.org.
Cirque of the Dead
Find chills and thrills at this high-flying circus act, featuring the Boston Circus Guild mixing aerial, acrobatic, burlesque and juggling acts with gore—and humor—while Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band keeps the dance floor rocking each night. There’s a costume contest, so dress to impress. As event organizers point out: “If you show up looking like a zombie, the rest of the horde is less likely to eat you.”
$25-$45, October 28-30, Oberon, 2 Arrow St., Cambridge, 617-496-8004, americanrepertorytheater.org.
“Scared for Good” Halloween Organ Concert
It’s been two years since the last “Scared for Good” performance, but their return should be as eerie as ever. Taking place in candlelight at the gothic Old South Church, minister of music Harry Huff will be performing haunting pieces from such works as The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, The Exorcist, Harry Potter, and the “Ride of the Valkyries.” Costumes are encouraged, and while it’s free to attend, donations are recommended—proceeds benefit the Allston-Brighton Food Pantry.
Free (donations accepted), October 30, 7:30 p.m., Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-536-1970, oldsouth.org.
ManRay Halloween Reunion
Even though ManRay—the legendary Central Square club known for its goth events, gay nights, and fetish parties—has been dead for 10 years, it still rises from the crypt now and again. For the 2015 ManRay Halloween Reunion, DJ Chris Ewen with special guest DJ Arcanus will be spinning all night long (straight through the witching hour), as bartendrix Teresa Niedzwiecki pours potions at the bar. For anyone in a particularly vampy mood, take part in the costume contest, where emcee Gene Dante will help pick the night’s most ghostly guest.
$15 for admission, October 31, 8 p.m.-2 a.m, Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm. Ave, Boston, 617-562-8800, ticketmaster.com.
For long-running Halloween hell-and-fund-raiser Bloodfeast, Globe reporter Emily Sweeney, a horde of DJs, and B-52s cover band the Appliqués will be converging on Machine for one glorious (and gory) evening, offering a $1,000 prize for best costume. Adding to the already-intense ambiance, Know No Truth’s Landon Richmond—fresh off October 9’s “Possessed Pizza Party”—will also be painting live. Proceeds benefit the New England Society of Professional Journalists’ scholarship fund.
$15, October 31, 9 p.m., Machine, 1256 Boylston St., Boston, facebook.com.
“Sinners & Saints” Cruise
Are you a sinner or a saint? Dress the part this Halloween when you step aboard the Provincetown II for the “Sinners & Saints” Halloween cruise. They’re handing out more than $1,000 in prizes for costumes in three categories—sinner, saint, and “original.” DJs spin top-40 hits on two decks.
$20 general admission advance ($40 day of), October 30, 7:30-10:30 p.m., Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston, bostoneventguide.com.
“Haunted Ghost Ship” and “Titanic Masquerade” Cruises
On Saturday, the Provincetown II becomes a “Haunted Ghost Ship” for the night, or the “Titanic Masquerade” takeover on the Spirit of Boston yacht. Show up in your best costume, and dance the night away in Boston Harbor to live DJs. Keep your eyes open for the Flying Dutchman wandering the open sea, event organizers warn—sighting the ship is a sign of imminent doom. (Or a sign that you need to lay off the bar.)
$30 for general admission (advance tickets), October 31, Provincetown II cruise boards at 6:45 p.m. and departs at 7:30 p.m., Spirit of Boston cruise boards at 9:30 p.m., departs at 10 p.m., Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 866-254-8949, halloweencruises.com.
Boston Grown-Ups Museum Fright Night
For those still young at heart, the Boston Children’s Museum is transforms itself into the Boston Grown-Ups Museum for those still young at heart. Dress up in your wackiest and wickedest costumes and spend the night clambering up that three-story climbing sculpture and exploring the museum’s other exhibits—which will be an especially exciting challenge after a few trip to the full cash bar on site. While you build a fort and compete in the costume contest, KISS 108 DJ Rich DiMare provides the spooky soundtrack.
$25, October 29, 7-11 p.m., Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston, 617-986-3649, eventbrite.com.
Festivals & Outdoor Events
Punkin’ Fest at Lawn on D
Lawn on D is once again hosting Punkin’ Fest, a family-friendly Halloween event. Pick and carve your own pumpkin and add it to the Lawn on D’s own “Punkin’ Manor,” which will come to life with high-tech lighting that changes in response to music. Check out local artists creating specially carved jack-o’-lanterns, try your hand at pumpkin bowling, and get your face painted.
Free, Saturday, October 10, 12-10 p.m. (encore musical performances October 11-12, after sunset), The Lawn on D, 420 D St., Boston, lawnond.com.
Boston Zombie March X
Much to our shock and horror, the Boston Zombie March is back from beyond the grave, lurching back to undead life this October. For its 10th incarnation, the rules are simple. Do: Dress up as a zombie (or a zombie survivor). Don’t: Bring airsoft guns, hose off other marchers’ makeup with water guns, make physical contact with random passers-by, smear blood on local businesses, or scare children—well, not too badly, anyway.
Free, Saturday, October 24, 4-8 p.m., departs from South Station, Boston, facebook.com.
Halloween at South End Open Market
Following the announcement that some big changes are coming to SoWa, the South End Open Market is celebrating their last outdoor market of the season with their annual Halloween event. This year’s market will be out of this world, so dress according to the space theme—you can even win cash prizes for best alien costume. Food trucks and vendors alike will also get into the Halloween spirit, sporting their own costumes and tricking out their trucks and booths.
Free, October 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., costume contest at 1 p.m. (register before 1 p.m.), 460 Harrison Ave., Boston, newenglandopenmarkets.com.
Haunted Boston Ghost Tours
Take this 90-minute walking tour through Boston’s haunted streets. Follow guides throughout the city in the dark of night, your path illuminated only by lantern-light, all while being regaled with tales about the city’s horrific history and famous ghosts. What secrets are buried beneath Boston Common, in the Athenaeum, and Boston’s most haunted hotel? Find out.
$13-$18, nightly through November 15, 8 p.m., tours depart from Central Burying Ground, Boylston St., Boston, 800-979-3370, hauntedboston.com.
Ghosts & Gravestones
This “Boston frightseeing tour” will take you through the dark side of Boston history—by trolley. Your supernatural guide—will you get the pyromaniac circus ringleader, homicidal opera diva, or the cursed pirate?—will lead you through such sites as the city’s largest unmarked burying ground (which holds a history of torture and execution) and legendarily haunted hotel the Omni Parker House. Plus, hear tales about some of Boston’s most nefarious and grisly characters, including the Boston Strangler, Jolly Jane, Dr. John Webster, and Cotton Mather. Make sure to reserve tickets in advance, as this time of year everyone’s lining up for this gruesome tour.
$39 for adults, nightly through October 31, boards beside the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, 200 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 866-754-9136, ghostsandgravestones.com.
’Tis the season for terror on the big screen. Leading up to Halloween, Coolidge Corner gets viewers in the mood by playing Halloween classics every Friday and Saturday night in October. Coming up: The Blair Witch Project, Hocus Pocus, and Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and Rosemary’s Baby.
$11.25 for adult admission, Fridays and Saturdays through October 24, 11:59 p.m., Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-2501, coolidge.org.
Halloween Horror Movie Marathons
Looking for some good old-fashioned horror? The Coolidge Corner Theatre is holding their 15th annual midnight movie marathon, screening 12 hours of horror flicks this Halloween. You’ll have to wait until All Hallow’s Eve to find out the full lineup, but so far, they’ve revealed they’re screening Trick ‘r Treat and Halloween II. Warm up for this long, strange trip with psychedelic rock from Dust Witch, who pride themselves on sounding like “the soundtrack to 1980’s lost horror movies” and compete in the costume contest. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the river, you can also enjoy 12 hours of terror at the Somerville Theatre’s marathon, where they’re screening 35mm classics West of Zanzibar, Dracula, The Monster That Changed the World, Seconds, Aliens, and The Lost Boys.
Coolidge Corner Theatre: $20 for double feature, $25 for marathon, October 31, starts at 11:59 p.m., 290 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-2501, coolidge.org. Somerville Theatre: $30, Saturday, October 31, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m, 55 Davis Sq., Somerville, 617-625-5700, feitheatres.com.
Pub Crawls, Parades & Costume Contests
Boston Common Costume Dash
Seeing runners sprinting around the city, pretty average. Seeing 3,000 runners decked out in their craziest costumes—now that’s not something you see every day. Benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters, the first-annual Boston Common Costume Dash 5K run starts at Copley Square and end in the Boston Common. Harpoon Brewery will be sponsoring afterparties at Beantown Pub, the Pour House, the Rattlesnake, and Barracuda Tavern.
$50 registration fee (registration open through October 28), October 31, race starts at 9 a.m. from Copley Square, Boston, costumedash.com.
Faneuil Hall Halloween Pub Crawl
This year, more than 10 Boston bars—including the Times Irish Pub, the Vault, Hard Rock Café, Mija Cantina, and Wild Rover—are participating in this year’s series of pub crawls, spread out over three days. “While it’s tough to organize a pub crawl amongst your friends, we’ve done all of the work for you,” organizers write. “All you need to worry about is your costume, and your stamina, because you’ll probably be drinking for hours on end.” So sign up some friends, pick out a costume, and get ready for a crazy Halloween weekend.
$10, October 29-November 1, Faneuil Hall, Boston, 888-998-6609, pubcrawls.com.
Halloween Pet Parade & Costume Contest
Primp your pooch and parade them around Faneuil Hall in their cutest Halloween look— last year’s four-legged contestants included Harry Potter, a taco, a minion, and a pirate. Don’t be afraid to coordinate outfits. Each pet will be walked in front of a panel of judges for one of six prizes.
Free, October 24, 12 p.m., Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4 South Market Building, Boston, 617-523-1300, facebook.com.
5th Annual Canine Promenade
As if puppies weren’t cute enough already. Pets will take a half-mile stroll around the Esplanade dressed in their Halloween finest. The competition is not only cute, but tough—a previous promenade pit Tigger against leather-clad bikers and Waldo—so watch out. Grand prizes will be given out for best individual pet costume and best duet (i.e., owner and pet) costume. Don’t forget to claim your gift bag from Pawsh Dog Boutique.
$15 advance registration fee, $20 day of, October 25, 12-2 p.m., Fiedler Field, Charles River Esplanade, Boston, 617-227-0365, esplanadeassociation.org.
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